Affordable Housing Shortage in Sparks, Washoe County as Bad as R - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Affordable Housing Shortage in Sparks, Washoe County as Bad as Reno

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Available Affordable Housing is very difficult to find in Reno, and it's not any easier in Sparks or unincorporated Washoe County.

Thursday the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency were presented with updates numbers on the housing situation in the Truckee Meadows region, and how it effects low-income residents in the 3 jurisdictions.

"Affordable housing is pretty much issue number one for the entire region," Naomi Duerr, Reno City Councilwoman, said.

"Frankly it's a big issue," David Bobzien, Chair of TMRPA, said. "It's probably the biggest we're dealing with in the region right now."

Enterprise, a housing solution company, has been working with the agency since last year, and presented updated numbers to the agency. They outlined a similar need in all three jurisdictions, and praised the regional planning agency as a positive step to combating the problem because it's so widespread.

Duerr, who is a commissioner of TMRPA, says this agency is designed to handle the problem on that scale.

"This is a collective body about a collective issue we all have," Duerr said. "And it's presenting a collective way to move forward."

According to Enterprise's presentation, median income in the area between 2000 and 2016 fell 14 percent, while median home price rose 13.7 percent.

As a result, more and more residents are forced to spend more of their income towards housing.

A "cost-burdened" resident is a resident who pays more than 30 percent of their income towards housing costs. The total percentage of people who are cost-burdened are 38 percent among Reno residents, 35 percent among Washoe County residents, and 31 percent among Sparks resident.

Among residents who are cost-burdened, many are "housing-insecure" which means they pay more than 50 percent of their income towards housing costs. Those percentages are 36 percent for Reno, 39 percent for Washoe County, and 48 percent for Sparks.

That means in all three jurisdictions, more than 10 percent of residents spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs.

"It was stunning to see the number of people who spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing," David Bobzien, Chair of TMRPA, said. "That population in particular, they're the most susceptible when the market rates for rent goes up. Those are folks that are a rent increase away from being on the street."

"Sparks is even more challenged for affordable housing, than Washoe County as a whole or Reno as a whole, that came as a surprise," Duerr said. "You know I've had my Reno blinders on, and I really didn't know how compelling this issue was region-wide."

Bobzien said it's important that more local bodies continue doing what they can to alleviate the problem while the agency continues to make a plan. He used Reno's recent plan of community land trusts, as a program to create incentive to build low-income housing.

"We can't just do the strategy, we have to start working and putting other programs in place now,: Bobzien said.

The agency didn't make any decisions about what to do heading forward, but both Bobzien and Duerr stressed the importance of getting creative with solutions, and hope the public is patient as they try all sorts of solutions for the region's biggest problem.

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